There are a lot of perks to being a foreign diplomat in the U.S. — including being eligible for taxpayer subsidies for Obamacare coverage, according to two House committees.
Foreign diplomats working in the U.S. are eligible to purchase exchange coverage and to receive taxpayer premium subsidies for it, according to the House Foreign Affairs and Ways and Means committees.
Congressional investigators came across the news the usual way — while looking into the arrest of 25 Russian diplomats last December who were attempting to illegally obtain Medicaid benefits.
While communicating with the Foreign Affairs committee about the Medicaid fraud issue, the Department of Health and Human Services said that foreign diplomats with ‘A’ or ‘G’ visas, as well as their families, are eligible to enroll in an Obamacare exchange and to receive subsidies. Some diplomats are also eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for kids of low-income families.
The two committees are now asking IRS commissioner John Koskinen to detail who exactly is taking advantage of their new-found Obamacare eligibility, Foreign Affairs chairman Rep. Ed Royce and Ways and Means chairman Rep. Dave Camp wrote to Koskinen Wednesday.
“Many Americans would be surprised to learn that their tax dollars may be subsidizing health coverage for foreign diplomats,” Royce and Camp wrote. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services has informed the Committee on Foreign Affairs that, if they meet basic ACA requirements, ‘a foreign diplomat could satisfy the statutory criteria to be eligible for a premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions.”
“We are seeking to determine how many such individuals participate in these programs and the total cost of such benefits,” the letter continued. “We fully support the ability of foreign diplomats to purchase health care coverage in the United States. We do not, however, believe that American taxpayers should subsidize these services.”
Both the State Department and HHS have told Congress that they aren’t aware of how many foreign diplomats are taking advantage of Obamacare subsidies. Royce and Camp asked Koskinen to provide the number of foreign diplomats who are receiving premium and cost-sharing subsidies and the total cost.